VSX, A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist: Starbuck Powersurge - a young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of Viper Squad Ten, a long-disbanded group of stranded timetravelling troubadours, formed to help finance repairs to their time-machine. Now very much stuck in C21...
All text is copyright the Viper Squad Ten blog team 2003-2006 unless otherwise quoted or credited. If we've not credited you properly, please let me know. Throw us a link if you're desperate enough to use this guff...
Together with his colleague James Watson, he most famously resolved the three-dimensional structure and function of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), the very essence of life. However, there was a lot more to his scientific career than just the right-handed double helix.
In another dimension, brilliant people such as Crick would be worshipped as Gods.
That would be wrong. Crick believed in the human, in the organism, in the genetic code. Its everything we are, and everything we could be.
Boy gets murdered. Grieving mother blames her son's death on a videogame, saying that she thinks that she had heard some of his friends mention that the other boy was obsessed with it. Media spotting an easy and sexy story, full of potential for demonisation and cynical moralising, jump on the story and proceed to wheel out the same selective group of "experts" on the derogatory effects of video-games.
A tragic waste of lives - of the victim, of his now-campagning mother, and of the perpretrator's family. Everyone personally connected with this will be going through their own hell. And I'm sure that some of Manhunt's designers will not be feeling too great either.
But let me just make this clear. Videogames don't kill people. It's the sickness in society that's the real danger. Violent videogames provide a cathartic safe release for people who might otherwise internalise their aggresions, bouncing off the walls of their own personal void. If it was possible to properly judge effects of such games on the grand scheme of things, we would no doubt find they very much have a net positive effect on society.
Its those who preach to us how we should think, who tell us who we should be for their own selfish ends - the media, the politicians - that gradually rot the moral core of society and the minds that feed off it, one drip at a time.
We might be a generation of damaged privelidged people, but its been caused by the cynicism of the very people that "lead us" through our world or act as our window upon it. Gulf War Two, anyone? Fear is the mind-killer, and frightened animals can be dangerous. The problem is that we've sight of humanity.
6 August 2004 UPDATE: The truth struggles to come out in the aftermath of the Manhunt media furore. As reported in an incisive Inquirer article, Police have confirmed that "the video game was not found in [the killer] Warren LeBlanc's room, it was found in [the victim] Stefan Pakeerah's room... Leicestershire Constabulary stands by its response that police investigations did not uncover any connections to the video game, the motive for the incident was robbery."
Caught up in the Spiderman film hype that's sweeping across the nation, I decided to see what all the fuss was about. Living on the cutting-edge of movie watching as I do, last night I sat myself down in front of the webslinger's first recent outing, Spiderman One.
I must admit to have been a little disappointed. William Dafoe as the Green Goblin would face automatic relegation from the League of Superhero Baddies Cup. I found him extremely uncharismatic, and not fit to lick Gene Hackman-era Lex Luthor's boots, let alone polish Magneto's lodestones. He was like the slightly-crappy "human" bad guy sometimes spotted in Batman films filling out the space between the more "exotic" supervillains.
In fact, although the slight whiff of Batman permeated the film, much more pungent was the stench of Mighty Morphing Power Rangers that wafted from the screen whenever Spidey or the Goblin got dressed-up for their superpowered hi-jinks. Even the fights were like something out of Saban Entertainment's finest. Shocking.
Still, I did quite enjoy it, especially the mushy emotional bits (or so says my girlfriend), and I'll be giving Spidey2 a chance. Here's hoping that they've learnt from X-Men's sky-high standards.
Continuing my incessant post-holiday pre-holiday-report ramblings, can I just scream NOOOOOO! to the "answer-back" record by an unknown singer in reply to The Streets' rather wonderful "Dry Your Eyes" that I heard it on the Scott Mills radio show this morning. It's cynicism and its absolute lack of imagination had me tearing my hair-remnants out in anger. Thank frack I didn't catch the title - perhaps if I never hear it again it'll stay as a diffuse discorporeal memory rather than a coalescing into a nasty mental scab.
Now I greatly disliked Eamon's "Fuck It (I Don't Want You Back)", and I even more greatly despised Frankee's "answer-back" record "FURB (Fuck You Right Back)", but at least Frankee's a real person, whether or nor she and Eamon have ever been an item (though, much more likely of course, was that it was all just a cynical marketing scam designed to bleed idiots of their pocket money. Frankly I don't care, or at least I wouldn't care, had I not have to have listened to their crap on the radio all day over the last few months).
But for God's sake, The Streets' song is written about a fictional person, Simone, who is part of the concept album's story. So wtf's the point in someone writing an answer back record? YOU CAN'T EVEN PRETEND THAT ITS REAL! My God...
And whilst I'm charting the artistic decline OF western civilization (sort of), waking up in front of the telly early Sunday morning I channel-surfed onto Shake!, Channel Five's envelope of cartoons and animations for the very young.
As my eyes became adjusted to the electron beam, I noticed the image on the squeeky-clean continuity-presenter's T-shirt. I couldn't believe my oh-so-innocent eyes! The words "MORNING WOOD" were emblazened across his front, with the upper hemisphere of a sun peeping over the top of a small collection of trees in a most (read as: fairly) phallic manner. A quick scan on Google to look for an image confirmed that this wasn't my sick imagination - the number one result - "Ask The Experts: What is morning wood?" - confirmed my suspicions.
I've not seen such subtle kids TV subversion since I endured the horrific sight of Tommy Boyd spending several hours on his Saturday Starship with his flies "accidentally" gaping undone! Still, at least it took your attention away from his face.
The 'buck is indeed back!
I've spent the last few minutes laying Haloscan Comments against my guest editor's posts, but then I felt compelled to plough some seeds of thanks across VSX's raw code. Or something.
So may I thank DJ Tim for the 596 words of maximum entertainment that he has supplied in my absence.
The Truth About Starbuck was perhaps the creative zenith of all of the works produced by my two sub-editors. I read it in absentia whilst exploring the web-capabilities of my brother's mobile phone, and it caused me no end of chuckles. Or perhaps that was the mix of red, rose and white wines that were flowing through my drugstream. Though I had to put the record straight in Comment form, fearing the consequences to be great.
If I had more time, and if I was more skilled with Microsoft Paint, and if Revenge of the Nerds wasn't such an obscure piece-of-shit movie, then I'd put a bit more effort into the image - C3PO & R2D2 at the top, Darth Maul and Count Duckula at the bottom. Imagine the hilarity. Quite...
Oh, and whilst I'm still here, some new additions to the blogroll: Snowbabies, Buttercup Meadow and Yorkshire Snowman. I'd surfed in on the first two on the back of two different Sitemeter referrals, only to find "spooky" similarities in content. Turns out they're a couple.
Right, that's enough wittering for now - I don't want to overwhelm your adrenal glands. I wasn't even meant to be writing any of this stuff tonight. I was supposed to be enriching your lives with my fascinating facts found on my fact-finding fandango in France. That'll have to wait for later in the week. Get your smelling salts ready, people. It's gonna be exciting.
The 'buck is back
DJ Tim [20:22]
There is always a good time to sign of with dignity, I'm not sure that I have ever managed it yet but I will give it a go now. Starbuck has survived the fires and will be with you shortly so it is time to say good bye and threaten you all with the fact that I may be back soon. Keep watching TV especially C4 (remember to press the text button) if you have freeview turn to channel 9 at the end of september other than that - what this space - God Bless
No Sex please we're British
DJ Tim [21:54]
Please, please please stop the whole sex thing. I am sick and tired of it. I really don't want to here any more groans emanating from a sheet. Either evict Michelle or shoot her - I will be happy with both.
Having said that Stuart is no better. Never have I seen such a wet guy. Why can't he have a spine. I give that relationship approximately 30 seconds once they leave the house.
Shock news: They have just voted to evict Victor - well BB is over for me - how stupid are the British public they evict the only interesting person left in the house. I can't see myself watching now.
This is DJ Tim signing off ....click...burp...click
The Truth about Starbuck.......
DJ Tim [00:19]
Below is the truth about Starbuck read and believe or not (but if you do, you have been warned)
Starbuck was born Peter Shockivch in 1954 in a small village of Novomoskovsk, 100 miles south of Moscow. He enjoyed a happy childhood despite the abject poverty of his parents. He studies hard and during the winters (which lasted 10 months) he did a bit of figure skating. In 1966 he got a bronze medal in the local figure skating championships.
In 1972 he got a scholarship to the University of Moscow to study Joint honours in Biochemistry and Cold Temperature Physics. He graduated with a double first in 1975 and proceeded to study at the Institute of Agricultural Sciences in Bryansk. During his research at this institute he discovered how to liquefy ricin which won him the Yogifh award for science.
In 1977 he moves to the Smolensk Studio of Foreign Research. Here he works on methods of mind control focusing mainly of the art of internal jukebox control.
In 1978 Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov was killed by poison dart filled with ricin, fired from an umbrella. After this little is known of the movements Peter Shockivch .... However a certain Joseph Henry entered into Western Germany ten days later. The following day the western press announced that Georgi had been killed by the KGB.
In 1982 Joseph Henry played John Chidgey at backgammon. The later was humbled by his play, it led to a new rule of double crossing.
In 1985 Joseph was on stage at Live Aid - as a dancer
In 1989 Joseph (now called Marcus) was on top of the Wall with his hammer. Marcus hacked off a mighty chunk 'for freedom'
1990 Marcus was in Italy for the world cup. He was supporting - who ever drank the most beer.
1991 Marcus disappears...
1995 SeVen, Marcus has to change his name - the film is far to close to the bone.
1998 He moves to New Zealand = Andresus Thodoriought
2000 Kevin Smith doesn't land the three rings gig - Andresus does - he employee's a Jackson who does alright
.... The rest is history (but that Lucy girl - she's a star)
I must just inform my regular VSX Reader(s) that tomorrow I shall be hopping abroad for a week-long fact-finding mission (hopping being quite literally the operative word, as my only surviving set of shoes still residing in Britain have inconviently just sprung a large leak; also hopping mad, as my internal jukebox has subsequently filled with Neil from The Young Ones' "Hole In My Shoe").
So please don't panic if there are no signs of electronic life evident in Starbuck's web-based incarnation - I've not joined the host of ex-bloggers in the sky (at which point I must thank Clear Blue Skies' Dave for all of the electronic fun and frolics that he's pumped into my e-veins over the past year; Dave is taking a trial separation from CBS, but without this muddyfunster's flashblogging hijinks last year, I mightn't have discovered all of the wondrous sites now residing on my blogroll...)
Hopefully my sub-editors Stuart and DJ Tim will keep you amused in the meantime. In the not impossible event that they do not, please amuse yourself. But not like that. Ugh.
Its been a very busy few months for me, but for those who are interested (as I'm sure anyone who's bothered to get this far down the page must be), at least it looks like myself and Mrs Starbuck have nailed down an appropriate wedding venue (click HERE for details). Hopefully.
But as for the countless rivetting proto-articles that perpetually buzz around my head, all those self-indulgent thoughts that I've not recently found the time to stain the web with, you'll just have to wait. Or pray for memory loss.
Big Brovaz (coz they endorse it don't they? See what they did there?)
I can't stand it any more. My voice must be heard. I think Jason is easily the best thing on Big Brother. He appears to be the only one who realises what a bunch of &8$%s the rest of them are. Take last night, with Nadia screaming "you scare me because you're a bully but you're not scaring me" (good line of argument, especially in her annoying screech) while he is merely asking her what she said about him.
I can't believe the odds on him being voted out (had he been up for eviction this week) were 1-33! He's the saviour of British TV! (er, perhaps that's a bit strong)
My quick run through the other housemates:
Michelle - funny last night screaming at Ahmed, obviously gets bonus points for being topless so much of the time, but probably really quite awful
Victor - I like him too, but less than Jason
Ahmed - don't care
Stuart - don't care
Thingy with the blond hair - don't care
The boring sensible one - too boring, too sensible
Nadia - truly awful, MUST NOT win (whine whine I need my cigarettes oh just GROW UP!)
Nasty Nick - definitely think he's up to something
Bubbles - stupid hat
Erm... I can't remember the others' names, which is on account of my not really watching it and not getting sucked into it at all because it's terrible television and quite frankly below me.
Its been a mildly stressful week. With the emphasis on mildy. Myself and the betrothed had decided on the venue for next year's wedding last Sunday, only to discover over the course of the following week that the coordinators were incompetent in the extreme. From a state of blissful finality, that feeling of nagging uncertainty and, how you say, "up in the air"-ness had returned. Thank the Supreme Being that we were spending the week alone in the relaxing luxury of the parents-in-law-to-be's manor (whilst the parents-in-law-to-be were away on holiday)... I think we'd have ripped the paint off our own more-enclosing walls in frustration.
Seven days down the line, and with several more locations cased out, things are looking more hopeful. And at least I'll have more material for the inviteable "Starbuck's Weddings in Warwickshire guide".
I know that we always want the best for these things, but its annoying how something so positive can be so stressful. And I know its been stressful, because I've carried out a stress test. And failed.
You can try it yourself. Details are below:
Please read the following before looking at the picture.
The following picture was used in a case study on stress level at St.Mary's Hospital. Look at both dolphins jumping out of the water.
Both dolphins are identical.
The researchers concluded that a person is under stress if he/she finds the dolphins look different. If there are many differences found between the dolphins, it means that the person is experiencing a great amount of stress.
So, if you see too many differences between the two dolphins, you are advised to pack your bag, go home immediately and take a rest.
Wednesday morning Armpitistice
This morning the day has gotten off to a most embarrassing start.
Firstly, I must declare that I'm almost obsessive-compulsive about my deodorant application. I should point out that I don't have a body odour problem, and I never have, at least as far as I've noticed. Indeed, I could probably count on the fingers of one armpit the number of times that I have let any secreted aromatic hydrocarbon rings escape into the atmosphere from my pit glands. However, that doesn't stop me from spending at least 5 minutes each morning rolling on my Mitchum For Men ("48 hour protection - so good you could even skip a day" - the best deodorant I've sampled!). I'd probably be dead if I still used spray-ons, the amount that I used to get through; back in my Lynx days I ended up choking on the fumes most days. I reckon that roll-ons saved my life!
So my obsession may be a problem, but not a big problem. The worst part was the amount of clothes that ended up being stained yellow with deo - even after running around doing airplanes for half an hour or so, there'd still be sufficient wet residue to further increment the damage to that favourite top...
The breakthrough arrived with the girlfriend. A hairdryer!
It works a treat - every morning, before I put on my shirt, I thoroughly blow-dry my armpits. No more sitting around, no more damaged shirts.
It might look a tad silly, but I've not felt any embarrassment in this.
Until this morning, that is. Standing there in my boxer shorts, hand held aloft as I blowdry my armpits, back turned to the bedroom window at my girlfriends' parents house, I hear a knocking at the window. Turning round, there's a bemused-looking window cleaner staring in...
Aaaagh! What can you do in such circumstances? Run and hide, or stay and complete the job?
Rocket Mania / Bowman
As I will be spending the next few evenings in the company of a untrained and petulant "other" computer, normal service on VSX may not resume for a few days.
As a gift to regular readers in the meantime, I offer you - ROCKET MANIA! One of the most addictive web games I have ever played. Adding a Puyo-Puyo/Tetris spin to an already solid core concept of gridsquare-rotating firework fuse-connection (complete with rewardingly explosive payoff) was a touch of genius. Scarily compulsive.
If you'd prefer something a lot more slow and considered, you could do worse than Bowman (link spotted at Keelhauling), one of those archery duel games which is all about angle and speed of projectile. I'm utterly rubbish at it, though it could well float your boat...
If you can't cope with the mental strain of physics calculations, you'll find Gold Miner much more to your liking (link from from NGUK). Simple but fun.
nuqneH! buy' ngop!
Ah, that sweet giddy feeling of delight that sweeps over you when it becomes evident that geekling phrases have crossed over into normal usage.
Just now, myself and my girlfriend were getting all soppy as our initial wedding venue arrangements fall into place, when my betrothed came over all Vulcan with the words "May we live long and prosper".
Wonderful! She's not into Star Trek, she's doesn't like Star Trek, and she's never actually seen any Star Trek!
Full to bursting
I've lately found myself brimming over with matters of great importance that need writing about (rubbish website links, half-baked ideas, et cetera), but I've just not been able to find the time. You lucky people...
However, I feel that it is my duty to record for electronic posterity that Jimmy Spices is one of the best all-you-can-eat buffet restaurants in Birmingham - perhaps even better than the mighty Big Wok. The One Like Jimmy specialises in authentic Chinese, Indian, Italian and Thai foods, so plenty of choice for the coinnoseur, and plenty of everything for a greedy-guts like me. The "live" stir-fry comes especially Starbuck-recommended, as does the Indian pancake thing whose name escapes me.
Birminghamheads, get yerselves down to 5A Regency Wharf, Gas street Basin, Broad Street, Birmingham B1 2SD, and you, like me as I write, can truly still feel full to death the following day.
And so to steal the thunder of his imminent Orbital review on that rather lovely site, here's Starbuck's own CD Special:
Orbital - The Blue Album - with this, the final Orbital album, the Hartnoll brothers bring their 15 year history to a respectful close with yet another slab of sublimely perfect electronic music. They have refined that classic Orbital sound with such a delicate touch that on the surface its less outright Orbital, but so much more so within its depths. Both beautiful and primal, its soundscapes take in everything from classical ethereal restraint to the adrenalised techno rollercoasters that you would expect. Orbital - unpretentious, mind music perfection for the masses. They will be missed.
The Streets - A Grand Don't Come For Free - it hooks straight into your head on the first couple of listens. There'll be no new suprises from there on, but that's the beauty of it. Craply brilliant and brilliantly crap in places, subtley clever in others. And it still makes me want to cry as the story reaches its conclusion...
Scissor Sisters - shamelessly extravagant pop music. Its as camp as christmas and rightfully proud of it. Makes me want to wear sequins and a cowboy hat. Joyous!